The Bhikkhunī Issue
Aloka Vihara Bhikkhunīs walking in the forest…
Some years ago I had the privilege of attending a daylong retreat given by a female renunciate who was struggling (along with others) with the fact that in the Theravāda Buddhist tradition there were no more fully ordained nuns. At one point in the history of the tradition, the number of nuns fell below the requisite number required to ‘legally’ ordain another nun. Having listened to her expound the Dhamma that day (and realizing just how deeply it was needed here in the West), I found myself in tears as I urged her to disregard sanctions against the action and proceed to take full ordination… to become a fully ordained Buddhist nun in the Theravadin tradition.
The power of the Dhamma (when heard in appropriate circumstances) is great. It can crack open hearts that have been longing to be free. Of course, that day I was but one small voice of many, but now I am happy to say there is a growing Sangha of nuns, who are deepening their practice and spreading the teachings of Shakyamuni Gotama throughout the land. Despite the objections of the Elders (and those had consequences), I am told that Buddhists today are joyful to see such a Bhikkhunī in their midst. For some, it is tantamount to encountering a mythical creature, and they are moved to tears. That gladdens my heart considerably.
My own Mountain Stream lay-sangha hosted a talk by Mindy Zlotnick this evening, entitled I Will Not Pass Away, Reinstating the Buddha’s Vision of the Four-fold Sangha:
We have come a very long way towards actualizing the dream of a new Bhikkhunī Sangha and, for that, I rejoice.
For those who would know more, I offer the following:
- Dhamma Wiki page on Bhikkhunī Ordination
- Alliance for Bhikkhunis (a portal for all things Bhikkhunī)
- Sakyadita International Association of Buddhist Women
- Dhammadharini.net supports the opportunity for full monastic ordination for Buddhist women in the Theravāda.
- Saranaloka Foundation (supporting Theravāda Bhikkhunis of the Forest Tradition in the West)
- Teachings from the Bhikkhunī Sangha (Dhammadharini)
- Friends of Aloka Vihara Monastery (be sure to check their Resources page)
- Ayya Santacitta’s Dhamma talks (Dharma Seed)
- Ayya Anandabodhi’s Dhamma talks (Dharma Seed)
- Ayya Tathaaloka’s Dhamma talks (Dharma Seed)
- Global directory of Theravāda Bhikkhunī monasteries (Alliance for Bhikkhunis)
- Aranya Bodhi (Awakening Forest) a community of Buddhist monastic women set among the forest redwoods and high meadows of the California Sonoma Coast.
- Dhammasara Nun’s Monastery a training monastery for nuns in the Forest Tradition of Theravāda Buddhism.
- Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project aims to promote the teachings and practices of Early Buddhism, through establishing a Bhikkhunī presence in the UK.
- Samita ASBL chronicles a Belgian effort to create the Tilorien Monastery, as “a refuge of compassion” for nuns.
- The Validity of bhikkhunī Ordination by bhikkhus Only, According to the Pāli Vinaya, a SuttaCentral discussion of the debate between Ven. Anālayo and Ajahn Ṭhānissaro regarding bhikkhunī ordination — includes downloads to 6 relevant publications.
- Ajahn Sujato’s essay, The Imaginariums of the Nuns: Days That Are Past and Futures That May Yet Be
- Tubten Chodren’s Web page on Bhikshuni Ordination
- Known Nun Disciples of the Buddha
- The Stories about the Foremost Elder Nuns (AN & AA 8.51-53)
- Three Discourses concerning Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (AN 8.51-53)
- The Discourse giving the Analysis of Offerings (MN 142)
- Thematic Discourses about Nuns (SN 5)
- Nandaka’s Advice (MN 146 & AA 1.4.7)
- Arahat Dhammadinnā’s Teaching (MN 44 & Comms.)
- Khemā Therī’s Wisdom (SN 44.1)
- Arahat Saṅghamittā’s Story
- The Bhikṣuṇī Maṇimēkhalai
Thanks to Adimutti Bhikkhunī for bringing this to our attention:
Study Buddhism added a new video: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo – The Role of Women in Buddhism.
The renowned Buddhist teacher Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (official) talks about the role of women in Buddhism, exploring the issue of full ordination for nuns and the increasing confidence of the new generation of female practitioners.
Bringing the Dhamma/Dharma to the West challenges old traditions.
In spite of all obstacles, may all feminine hearts be free — now and forever.